PLE is a way of viewing learning on the web--we're not centered on one application.
- Store photos (Flickr) and video (Google video)
- Place to work collaboratively through Google docs.
- Way to stay up to date (Google Reader)--My note--only 4-5 people in this group of about 40 who use RSS!!!
- Way to save money on long-distance calls (Skype)
- Knowing where he's staying before he gets there (Google Maps)
- Way to draw (Gliffy)
What do PLEs mean for learners--A world full of free learning resources. Three major ways to view
- Can think of them as a "thing" and "object"--books, content, etc.
- Can think of them as "events"--class, lecture, etc.
- Can think of them as flow--stresses experience and pattern recognition. This is how we should be thinking of them.
Living in a world of user-generated content. It's personal, opinionated. It's games, comics, photos, etc.
It's a network of interactions--people linking to, connecting to other people
It's immersive--learning follows you. Learning environment should always be available to you inside other environments.
New roles for students as creators of learning, for teachers as coaches and mentors and for the rest of as as teachers.
Because everyone is hyper-connected and can create create content, can do their work in an open and public way. This open way adds value. A welder videotapes himself welding--that creates live, dynamic learning resources for anyone in the world who is interested. Idea is that everyone, not a select set of trained people, becomes a teacher and a learner.
Web of user-generated content. More interesting than Wikipedia are the billions of pages of how to do things.
Your network becomes the filter--they are the ones who act as editors for you. Structure of web of interactions is what creates the filter. How we construct our web will determine how well we can filter.
Learning becomes a network phenomenon. Learning is immersion of yourself in a community of practice and web of interactions. Web is composed of people who are interested in the same things.
Issues--too much info, too many sources to scan, localization/personalization and relevance.
Network semantics--some kinds of networks are more reliable than others. Some can produce "cascade phenomenon" where everyone is doing the same thing (like spread of disease or a rumor). If your network is too tightly joined so that everyone can be exposed quickly in a short number of hops, then something can spread very rapidly. Need a network that will slow down the propagation of ideas, that will create communities that give enough time for alternative ideas to spread too. This allows for both to have an equal chance of being represented in the network.
Principles of this kind of network are semantic principles--design of networks that are least likely to create cascade phenomenon but more likely to spread ideas. Right now we have too much connectivity.
Semantic Principle--four elements
- Each person who has a PLE is autonomous. Chooses own software, making own decisions, etc. (Stephen's PLE--gRSSHopper). Not just a place where you consume content--it's also where you create content. PLE aggregates and stores content so that the learner can create own content.
- Diversity--Goes against our natural inclination. Typically we're told that "sameness" defines community and collaboration. Strength of network comes not from common identity but from diversity. People are defining own perspective and point of view and then communicating with everyone else. Then a perspective and knowledge emerges as a consequence of those conversations.
- Connectedness--diversity must be connected and interactive. From web of interactions comes knowledge. Small pieces, loosely joined. The network has the knowledge, not necessarily any one individual.
- Open--No barriers to joining the network. No division points, etc.
(My note--Wondering if this is way beyond a lot of the people in this room--do they know the individual tools enough to get the concepts?)
Stephen is noting that the different ways that people are organizing themselves online for the Connectivism course (i.e., Moodle, Second Life, Ning, etc.) are impacting the quality of the conversation. On Moodle, where things are very hierarchical, there are a few people dominating "conversation" and stifling most other ideas. Bloggers are more open, diverse, etc. (represent more of the semantic principles)--having more "productive" discussions. No one is dominating the conversation--everyone is heard, everyone has a voice. Stephen sees this as a function of the tool. I wonder if certain kinds of people aren't attracted to different kinds of tools. Which comes first? People selecting a certain tool that supports their behavior or people behaving according to how the tool operates?
PLE is a way for each person to have their own presence in the network--to be a node in the network. It means aggregating, networking, filtering and feeding forward the info to other connections in the network.
- Tagging--people choose how they will categorize info and the cumulative effect becomes a diverse, autonomous way of referring to the world.
- AJAX--way for web page to "talk to server without having to reload itself." Works with JSON to create very tight connections.
- REST (representational state transfer) way to associate a website with data. Key to mash-ups.
- Open ID--can share data among different sites.
(My note--I spoke with a woman at lunch from Cisco who said she felt this all missed the mark, was too "big picture" and "academic" for her. I think people were more interested in how to construct and support PLEs, rather than delving into the underlying principles. They seemed to want more concrete information from a practitioner standpoint)
UPDATE--For more on personal learning environments (PLEs), check out this post.